Friday, March 14, 2014

Startup Saturday Kolkata, March 2014

Sometimes you have to do things on a whim. Sometimes you need to take the plunge without thinking too much. Sometimes, you just have to trust that tiny little voice inside your head, which makes you want to throw caution to the winds and iump right in.

And if that sounds like the regular life of any startup founder, you may not be too far from the truth. And that is precisely what I did, about 15 days back, when I applied to volunteer for Startup Saturday. And after everything that has happened in the days since, I am glad I did.

SS has been around for quite a while in Calcutta. And just like a lot of budding entrepreneurs in the city, I attended a few sessions after I moved back here, last year. But as happens with a lot of things I try out in life, I quickly got caught up in other more seemingly important things, and quite forgot about it. Till this FB post popped up, asking for volunteers for the March edition.

My first reaction was a wary No! I told myself I had more than enough on my plate already, and I could completely do without the added distraction. A man (who is not known to the world as Superman), must know his limits, and I drew my Laxman Rekha around all things strictly in the CityNaksha universe. Every logical extension of my being, was certain that I shouldn't get involved. That my only priority in life was my startup, and I possibly couldn't spare the time even if I wanted to.

But before I knew it, I had volunteered and was talking to the Headstart team. The sane, calculating, logical me, slapped his passionate but distracted twin, and went away on a vacation. And I was mostly left to lick my wounds, and find out what I had gotten myself into.

My journey with SS began on a wonderful note, as I found myself interacting a lot with Shivani and Arti, two amazingly efficient women who coordinate with the chapters in different cities, helping them resolve any issues they are facing in organizing SS meetups. Shivani also doubled up as my mentor, guiding me through some very frustrating, and difficult moments that come along with organizing any event that brings together supremely talented, but often temperamental people together.

The sheer volume of gyaan that I have picked up from her in these few days, is enough to last me for quite some time to come. And that then brings me to my biggest learning experience in this episode till now: How to get along with people!

Its surprising how I have turned out to be the misanthrope that I am, given that it was not always this way for me. As a kid, I used to positively love interacting with people. But somewhere down the line, things changed, and I started to suck, at being around other human beings. Things came to such a pass, that lately I had come to the realization that I can't even handle basic interactions, which involve a disagreement of views. It would seem like a bother. A problem that is easier to run away from, than hack away at and resolve.

But the last couple of days seem to have started a small chain of changes, inside of me. I have now come to learn the value of listening to, and resolving divergent views, of not shying away from group dynamics that are unfavourable to me, of accepting my mistakes and quickly setting things right, of the value of a kind and humble word to the misunderstood, of the need of a hint of stern action to the mischievous. Things that I hadn't quite grasped till now.

This however, is just the beginning. I don't really know how this will pan out in the future. But I know, I will be undeterred by their outcome. I now know what tremendous potential and energy I can draw from the startup ecosystem in my city, and I am not going to give up on it. The journey ahead has as many promises, as challenges. But I know, I will trudge along. And when the time comes to hand over the baton to the next, more deserving one in line, I shall do so with the satisfaction of having done my bit for the entrepreneurs and the creators, in my city.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. 

- Robert Frost


  1. That's was an awesome blog RD. So glad you stepped out of your comfort zone and have pursued this path, with all the challenges that come along. I really needed to read this cause I'm setting out on it too! Going to see an office space today!

  2. (Clap clap clap) Really well done you :-D Way to go and keep going!

  3. As much as I loved attending the Startup Saturday meet, I loved this post too. My sincere appreciation for taking this initiative. Looking forward to attending future chapters.